National immigration reform advocacy day

I'm just getting back from one of the many rallies and events around North Carolina and around country today to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. One of the lead groups behind it is the National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities along with more local and statewide partners like Asociación de Mexicanos en Carolina del Norte. At the event I attend I heard voices ranging from passionate arguments for equality to a heartbreaking tale of how a broken immigration system has devastated lives.

Though thankfully the Supreme Court decision earlier this year against DOMA relieved the need for the UAFA bill to create immigration fairness for binational LGBT couples, there is still a lot of important work that needs doing.

I wrote earlier this year about my experiences registering voters at naturalization ceremonies in the Raleigh-Durham office of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, and it was powerful and moving to see the joy shared by new citizens and their families, but it's not an opportunity open to everyone in this broken immigration system.

We're seeing the Latino community becoming an increasingly meaningful voter block and advocacy community. Earlier this year there was a Latino advocacy day at the General Assembly to fight for in state tuition for young people who have grown up and gone to school here even if they were born somewhere else.

That experience is what I tried to talk about today. That I believe in immigration reform because it will open doors of opportunity in terms of education and in terms of civic participation through voting. But it's much more than abstract concepts, and as one woman reminded us today during her speech, this broken immigration system creates a lot of dark corners in the system and opportunities for abuse, as she recalled her kidnapping, sexual assault, and subsequently her husband having to leave the country and her children being sent with him leaving her so alone.

I know the government shutdown is likely to drown out other news and political speech, but I think we all have to do our part to make sure this issue isn't forgotten, because as one of today's speakers reminded everyone there, every day lost is costing real people dearly. Even amidst the shutdown, there are at least legislative efforts ongoing that we can support.

WASHINGTON — House Democrats impatient with the pace of immigration legislation in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives introduced their own bill Wednesday that would overhaul the nation's immigration laws.

Congress remained in the grips of the government shutdown Wednesday. Even when that's resolved, the Democratic bill faces a difficult road in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner refused to consider a similar, comprehensive bill that was passed by the Senate in July.


Activists arrested

Something North Carolinians are no stranger to these days, getting arrested trying to make your voice heard:

Members of Congress arrested at immigration rally

Washington (CNN) - Several House Democrats were arrested near the Capitol on Tuesday during a march for immigration reform.

Reps. John Lewis, Charlie Rangel, Jan Schakowsky, Luis Gutierrez, Al Green and Joseph Crowley locked arms with other protesters, allegedly blocking traffic and refusing to disperse.

Approximately 200 demonstrators were arrested, according to U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kim Schneider.

Those arrested will face charges of "crowding, obstructing and incommoding," according to Schneider.